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Your Favorite Animals

Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
edited May 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Sorry, it turns out I'm not good at witty titles. This thread is about animals that are weird, horrifying, fascinating or just irresistibly cute. Share interesting animal facts, dispel myths, or just tell us what your favorite animals are and why.

Most of the animals I'm interested in seem to be a mix of all four attributes mentioned above. For example, I love ants and other social insects (cuteness is in the eye of the beholder in this case, I suppose), and my interest in insects was what got me into biology in the first place. But there are two types of animals, very different from each other, that have become my enduring favorites.

Near the top of my list of favorites are the various birds of paradise. I became interested in them when I was reading about the evolution of sexual dimorphism for a course. This is a pretty diverse group of bird genera, but what most of these species have in common is the complex mating behavior of the males. It can involve physics-defying displays of plumage, "singing" that may or may not sound beautiful, cleaning and decorating their territory with colorful objects, and usually some kind of a wacky dance. Generally, the more plain-looking the bird, the more they invest in dancing and decorating. It's the dancing types I like the most, and if you watch this video you'll know why:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZF_IbizDzw

Mantids must be my all-time favorite group of animals. They're a pretty succesful order of insects: you can find them on every continent except the Antarctica. Their behavior may seem a bit dull, as most of them just pretend to be twigs or flowers until food wanders close, but they do engage in impressive mating dances, although the motive behind their dance is less about attracting attention and more about not being eaten by the wife. The name "praying mantis" comes from their characteristic stance and swaying movement. Apparently the swaying helps the mantis separate the relative movement of its prey from the background. Large mantids can eat small birds, lizards and snakes.

I just love how these insects look. They're big enough to be easily observed, some species are strikingly beautiful, and they often combine real badassery with an endearing comedy villain look. Their threatening and defensive stances are impressive. Their body language can be pretty entertaining, thanks to their mobile "pupils" and arm-like raptorial legs.

For example, they can pull of a decent Dr Evil expression, like this orchid mantis:
Spoiler:

And here's my favorite, the Devil's Flower mantis, in all its dark glory:
Spoiler:

Bliss 101 on
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Posts

  • StarcrossStarcross Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I've always liked the platypus, just for being so weird.
    Spoiler:

    When people first went to Australia they killed and stuffed platypuses to bring back and sell to museums. A lot of museums refused to accept them believing that they were just a dead otter and duck stitched together in an attempt to fool the gullible.

  • EndomaticEndomatic Registered User
    edited April 2009
    Can't lose with the Lyre Bird and David A.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjE0Kdfos4Y

  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'll admit Devil's Flower mantis looks awesome, but maybe this thread should be moved to SE++ since I'm not sure where the debate part comes in.

    Alternatively we can debate which animal (or insect) is the best.

    In that case may I present the Cuddlefish:

    http://api.ning.com/files/UmeOQNx2kXcYuDjEKbtNVLCrFpBiEN4q84IhAKQ0SMzM7CXZBBIQMDagUtTzilZOXb-RlBPwaOefUlRQaOKOirVKOgtrJwuc/CuddlefishHunting_20080709_425.jpg

    http://xkcd.com/520/

  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Dman wrote: »
    maybe this thread should be moved to SE++ since I'm not sure where the debate part comes in.

    I'd imagine it's called Debate and Discourse for a reason.

    And the platypus sure is a strange creature. I was flabbergasted when I learned that they actually have poisonous stingers, in addition to all the other weirdness. It's like someone's Spore creation escaped into the real world.

    MSL59.jpg
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2009
    New Caledonian Crow For The Motherfucking Win

    Watch that video. Seriously, watch it and be fucking amazed. That is a short clip from an experiment. That long metal object he has in his mouth? An unbent paper clip. It was not unbent at the beginning of the experiment. The crow found a paper clip, unbent it, went to the tube, tried to get the object out using the straight paper clip, realised it wasn't working, so proceeded to bend it in to a hook and then completed it.

    This is a crow that has never experienced a paper clip in nature. These crows are the /only/ animal besides humans that can take an object that it has never experienced before and transform it in to a valuable tool.

    SuperKawaiiWillSig.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Siphonophores.

    2729_600.jpg

    hottopics-deepsea.jpg

    orange_600.jpg

    They are deep-sea colonial cnidarians (jellyfish are cnidarians). Each one is actually a bunch of animals that function as a single "body." Each organism in the colony functions almost like a cell in a metazoan.

    It's actually not clear if they should be thought of as single animals or many animals, because each "individual" is a clone. They reproduce sexually, but then the new siphonophore starts budding off clones of itself that differentiate into the different parts of the "body"—jellyfish "bells" on top for swimming, polyps throughout for digestion, etc.

    The Portuguese Man-o'-War is also a siphonophore.

    image.jpg

  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    The echidna is also a weird animal. Australia is just kind of fucked up in general.

    Ants and termites have pretty impressive behaviors and defense mechanisms. Though my favorite defense is the wombat, which digs a small hole, and sticks it's head in it, leaving only it's armored butt exposed.

    steam_sig.png
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I like how the platypus has mammary glands throughout its entire body. Milk glands likely evolved from sweat glands (or share a common precursor) and the platypus is just evidence of that.

    I also like how their venom does not long-term damage to the victim, but directly stimulates pain receptors to cause excruciating, crippling pain.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    These crows are the /only/ animal besides humans that can take an object that it has never experienced before and transform it in to a valuable tool.

    /Only/ that we know of, you mean?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    These crows are the /only/ animal besides humans that can take an object that it has never experienced before and transform it in to a valuable tool.

    /Only/ that we know of, you mean?

    Fair enough. Only animal that has demonstrated this ability. Still, it's pretty fucking cool. New Caledonian Crows > Dolphins

    SuperKawaiiWillSig.jpg
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Chimps have been observed using stuff like reeds as straws and such

  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2009
    Chimps have been observed using stuff like reeds as straws and such

    The difference is they don't transform them. Chimps use brooms too. Chimps do use tools. They can even make tools out of stuff they're familiar with. They've never shown the ability to take something they've never seen before and then alter it to become a fitting tool for the problem at hand.

    SuperKawaiiWillSig.jpg
  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    These crows are the /only/ animal besides humans that can take an object that it has never experienced before and transform it in to a valuable tool.

    /Only/ that we know of, you mean?

    Fair enough. Only animal that has demonstrated this ability. Still, it's pretty fucking cool. New Caledonian Crows > Dolphins

    Dolphins are giving the crows a run for their money, though.

    edit: although I'm not sure how much transformation is involved. The realization that they can use a sponge as a face guard seems like a major cultural leap, though.

    MSL59.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Some other favorites:

    The Axolotl

    axolotl.jpg

    It's a kind of salamander. Salamanders are amphibians, like frogs, that spend their adult lives outside of the water. But the axolotl spends its adult life in the water, breathes with gills like a young amphibian, but reproduces.

    It is a prime example of neotony driving evolution. Neotony is when an organism reaches reproductive maturity "early" in its development—basically, when "adult" organisms (i.e. ones that breed) take on traits of "child" organisms. Neotony is also the driving force of dog-breeding and, some say, the evolution of human beings from our primate ancestors (notice how much more baby chimps look like humans than adult chimps do).

    ...

    Starfish:

    This starfish is using its tube feet to pull open the hinged shell of a mussel. When it opens, the starfish will spit out its own stomach, into the mussel's shell. The stomach will dissolve the mussel inside its own shell. Then the starfish will suck its stomach back into its body, with the dissolved juices.

    We vertebrates are more closely related to starfish and other echinoderms than we are to insects, mollusks, and most other invertebrates. Echinoderms seem so bizarre because they have five-point radial symmetry (even ball-shaped ones have skeletons with five parts). But interestingly, a starfish larvae is bilaterially symmetrical, just like most other animals:

    starfish_larva.jpg

    It grows radial, five-point symmetry as it develops.

    ...

    Snakes

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pahea7HoeYs

    Seriously, snakes are weird.

  • Wonder_HippieWonder_Hippie __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2009
    The ocean scares the everloving shit out of me.

    Sunfish and that fish with the clear cranium and recessed eyes that was discovered a short while ago are some of the creepiest fucking things on earth. The ocean is full of alien lifeforms that want to eat out my intestines and plant eggs in my abdominal cavity, I just know it.

    Spoiler:
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    And the platypus sure is a strange creature. I was flabbergasted when I learned that they actually have poisonous stingers, in addition to all the other weirdness. It's like someone's Spore creation escaped into the real world.
    I actually think the weirdest thing about the platypus is its electromagnetic-sensing bill. It has more nerve endings connected to its bill than it does to its eyes.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Chimps have been observed using stuff like reeds as straws and such

    The difference is they don't transform them. Chimps use brooms too. Chimps do use tools. They can even make tools out of stuff they're familiar with. They've never shown the ability to take something they've never seen before and then alter it to become a fitting tool for the problem at hand.

    It is seriously awesome.

    Did you see the TED talk on the crow vending machine?

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/joshua_klein_on_the_intelligence_of_crows.html

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2009
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    These crows are the /only/ animal besides humans that can take an object that it has never experienced before and transform it in to a valuable tool.

    /Only/ that we know of, you mean?

    Fair enough. Only animal that has demonstrated this ability. Still, it's pretty fucking cool. New Caledonian Crows > Dolphins

    Dolphins are giving the crows a run for their money, though.

    edit: although I'm not sure how much transformation is involved. The realization that they can use a sponge as a face guard seems like a major cultural leap, though.

    No doubt that dolphins are very smart, but using an object for an alternate purpose is considered lower on the totem of intelligence than what the crow did. What the dolphin did requires an understanding of the basic properties of an object (soft, absorbant, etc.), but what the crow did requires an understanding of the basic properties of an object as well as which properties are invariant across transformation.

    SuperKawaiiWillSig.jpg
  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    This octopus squeezed its seven foot body into a box that was 2'x2' in the pursuit of a snack.

    And this one, in a supposed escape-attempt, took off a valve from her tank, flooding the aquarium with 200 gallons of water.
    Many octopuses show behavior that suggests curiosity, consciousness, and even a sense of humor, said Eugene Linden, author of the 2002 book The Octopus and the Orangutan: More True Tales of Animal Intrigue, Intelligence, and Ingenuity.

    In one instance, an octopus given a slightly spoiled shrimp stuffed it down the drain while maintaining eye contact with its keeper, Linden said.

    BKqtjKy.jpg
    xbl - HowYouGetAnts
  • EndomaticEndomatic Registered User
    edited April 2009
    If a dolphin could take a flat sponge and mold it to it's purpose, or something similar, then we'd have a comparison.

    Anyone watch some of the documentaries about Humboldt Squid?
    They hunt in packs, can reflect or do something to change the color of their skin in patterns in order to communicate, they are VERY curious, and VERY aggressive.
    I would really not want to encounter them, but they are interesting as hell!

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Ferrets. Ferrets ferrets ferrets ferrets. The evil bastards are adorable, smart, and playful. They're also like fuzzy little pirates what with all the stealing.

    PSN: allenquid
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Glad to see some bird love in this thread. Me? I really like parrots. Especially the really clever kinds, like African Greys.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rfGEtALHYs

    currently playing LoL: Polymath
    a fading melody - my indie platformer for the xbox 360
  • KillgrimageKillgrimage Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Totally tarantulas. My mom was an arachnaphobic so this might be why I like spiders so much. Not the small ones tho, they are often venomous and fast. Tarantulas are great because they are huge, not fast at all, and furry!

    Also, they eat live food which is cool to watch.

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    These crows are the /only/ animal besides humans that can take an object that it has never experienced before and transform it in to a valuable tool.

    /Only/ that we know of, you mean?

    Fair enough. Only animal that has demonstrated this ability. Still, it's pretty fucking cool. New Caledonian Crows > Dolphins

    Can't crows also solve really complicated puzzles even upon first encountering them?

    Birds are my favorite animals. I'll probably join the audobon society when I get out of school.

    follow my music twitter soundcloud tumblr
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  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    motherfucker will wreck you
    Spoiler:

    3DS - 3239-3347-2159
    XB1/360 - Local H Jay
  • s_86s_86 Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    -

    s_86 on
  • Mr PinkMr Pink I got cats for youRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
  • Clint EastwoodClint Eastwood Living Proof That Sometimes Friends Are Mean.Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    The shocking pink dragon millipede.

    2_greatermekongspecies_461.jpg
    Able to shoot cyanide, this millipede is tough enough to wear pink.

    First documented in 2007, the shocking pink dragon millipede--yes, that's its real name--is among more than a thousand new species found in the Greater Mekong region in the last ten years, WWF announced on December 15, 2008.

    Far from a fashion statement, the animal's bright color probably warns predators of the millipede's toxicity.

    SPJbSps.png
  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'm a dog person. Mastiffs, bulldogs, pugs, and bull terriers are my prefered breeds. Hate pomeranians and chuhuahuas.
    Qingu wrote: »
    The Portuguese Man-o'-War is also a siphonophore.

    image.jpg
    That fish is screwed.
    Deadfall wrote: »
    This octopus squeezed its seven foot body into a box that was 2'x2' in the pursuit of a snack.

    And this one, in a supposed escape-attempt, took off a valve from her tank, flooding the aquarium with 200 gallons of water.
    I have a friend who keeps octopi and he put a retaining bar along the top of his tanks (he has three) with a Master lock because he woke up once to a loud racket and the one of them was half way out of the tank and in the process of inviting the cat for a swim. The cat never walks by the tanks any more. Ever. Freaks the hell out when you pick her up and walk her to the tank. The octopus who tried to get her watches the cat. Constantly. Even swims up to the edge of the tank near the couch so that the cat can see it. We're pretty sure that it's fucking with the cat. No idea why the thing decided that the cat was a meal. Before she was caught, she had a tendency to "bat" at the tanks to scare the octopi (because cats are assholes), so maybe it decided it would "bat" back.

    "Adios, mofo" -- TX Gov Rick Perry (R)
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Snakes

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pahea7HoeYs

    Seriously, snakes are weird.

    aaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
  • ElendilElendil Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Damn it all, it's octopodes

    Per3th.jpg
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    GungHo wrote: »
    I have a friend who keeps octopi and he put a retaining bar along the top of his tanks (he has three) with a Master lock because he woke up once to a loud racket and the one of them was half way out of the tank and in the process of inviting the cat for a swim. The cat never walks by the tanks any more. Ever. Freaks the hell out when you pick her up and walk her to the tank. The octopus who tried to get her watches the cat. Constantly. Even swims up to the edge of the tank near the couch so that the cat can see it. We're pretty sure that it's fucking with the cat. No idea why the thing decided that the cat was a meal. Before she was caught, she had a tendency to "bat" at the tanks to scare the octopi (because cats are assholes), so maybe it decided it would "bat" back.

    That is awesome.

    One day that octopus is totally going to get that cat.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    The perplexing part about it is that he clearly indicated he doesn't like the fucking light shining right down on him, and they just moved the lights higher rather than away. He's probably Costanzaing about it right now with all his other "friends" in the tank.

    "Adios, mofo" -- TX Gov Rick Perry (R)
  • BloodySlothBloodySloth Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    GungHo wrote: »
    The perplexing part about it is that he clearly indicated he doesn't like the fucking light shining right down on him, and they just moved the lights. He's probably Costanzaing about it right now with all his other "friends" in the tank.

    It's not often that you get to annoy a member of a different species. Annoying cats and dogs is one thing, but an octopus? I'd hardly be able to resist myself.

  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2009
    Elendil wrote: »
    Damn it all, it's octopodes

    High. Fucking. Five!

    Yeah, morons, it's octopodes or octopuses, but never octopi.

    SuperKawaiiWillSig.jpg
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Seriously. That dude wants some nice shadowy places to dwell. Maybe lurk.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Elendil wrote: »
    Damn it all, it's octopodes

    Damnit, you're right Elendil. In my moment of triumph at being able to find that story I vaguely recalled, I forgot correct plural of octupus, which I myself have bitched about.

    I am a terrible person.

    :(

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Elendil wrote: »
    Damn it all, it's octopodes

    High. Fucking. Five!

    Yeah, morons, it's octopodes or octopuses, but never octopi.

    I was actually about to make an argument, but then I realized that pous is a third declension and I was all "well fuck me sweetly and call me Shirley!"

    follow my music twitter soundcloud tumblr
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  • ElendilElendil Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My love affair with octopodes began when I realized that "octopodes" was a totally sweet word

    The octopodes themselves have carried the banner of awesome admirably

    Per3th.jpg
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